Children, Violence and Marketing

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 1999


The Rose Garden

11:46 A.M. EDT

MRS. CLINTON: Good morning, and please be seated, and thank you for joining us today in the Rose Garden as we continue a national conversation about how to address the problems of youth violence in our communities and schools.

I want to thank everyone for coming this morning, and I'd like to acknowledge Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Deedee Corradini, Mayor Timothy Kaine, and County Executives Wayne Curry and Charles Ruppersburger. In addition to the Chairman of the FTC, whom you will hear from in a minute, Robert Pitofsky, we also have Commissioner Sheila Anthony and Commissioner Mozelle Thompson. I'm also pleased that Pamela Eakes, who led the very innovative group, Mothers Against Violence in America, has worked with us on this event as she has on past events that are also part of our efforts to try to create ways in which every American can take his or her part in doing whatever we can against youth violence.

As a nation, we've reacted to the shootings at Columbine High School like almost no other event I can remember in recent memory. It has literally pierced the heart of America. Yet, in my conversations with young people and parents over the past few weeks, I've heard less talk about people feeling helpless or hopeless and more about a growing consensus that finger-pointing doesn't lead to solutions and that we have to move forward together to take steps to end the violence, not only in our schools, but in our broader community. And that it is time—some might say past time—that we all play a role in making a positive difference in the lives of our children.

I want to thank the Attorney General and the Chair of the FTC for joining us today, as well as the many parents, educators, religious leaders, members of the media and students who are here as well. I'm pleased that we will be hearing from a 4th grader this morning who will tell us how he became part of the solution in his home state of Washington.

I think all of us recognize that there is no single answer or solution to the problem of violence in our society, but that we must move on many fronts—from passing common-sense gun control efforts to helping parents understand better how to exercise authority over the media that their children are exposed to, and enabling more parents to spend more time with their own children.

We've come together to talk about some of the ways we can begin to reverse the culture of violence that is engulfing American children every day, particularly the role that the media plays in shaping the lives and values of our children and young people.

In 1972, a Surgeon General report said, and I quote: “We know that children imitate and learn from everything they see—parents, fellow children, school, the media. It would be extraordinary, indeed, if they did not imitate and learn from what they see on television.”

The report went on to say that violence on television causes children either to mimic directly the actions they see or to act generally in a more aggressive way. Yet, today, more than 25 years after this report was written, our culture is even more saturated with TV programs, movies and songs that romanticize and glorify violence. What kind of values are we promoting when a child can walk into a store and find video games where you win based on how many people you can kill or how many places you can blow up.

We can no longer ignore the well-documented connection between violence in the media and the effects that it has on children's behavior. One study has found, for example, that if an actor is rewarded for violent behavior, children are more likely to imitate it. Another tells us that media violence has a particularly negative effect on children who already have a tendency toward aggressive or antisocial behavior.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, viewers of violence not only become desensitized and fearful, they begin to identify with an aggressive solution to their own personal problems. America's culture of violence is having a profound effect on our children, and we have to resolve to do all we can to change that culture.

One of the ways we can do that is to give parents the tools they need to control what their own children are exposed to. And we've already moved forward in that direction. Today's announcement is another important step in the fight against violence. We know there is a lot of work to be done. But I'm encouraged that so many leaders and citizens are coming together and talking honestly not only about the challenges we face, but what we have to do, together, to meet those challenges.

I'm particularly heartened that as a result of the meeting the President convened at the White House a few weeks ago, there was general agreement from a broad cross-section of Americans that we would launch a national grass roots campaign to prevent youth violence. We would model the campaign on successful national efforts like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which showed us that we can change the culture when enough people from all walks of life say enough is enough. So I look forward to seeing everyone working together on this new nationwide effort to prevent youth violence.

Now, I'd like to introduce someone who cares deeply about the future of our children and who has fought tirelessly to create safe schools and communities. Our Attorney General, Janet Reno. (Applause.)


June 1999

School Violence

White House Conference on Mental Health

Globalization into the Next Millennium

NGO Round Table on Civil Society

Children, Violence and Marketing

Civitas Palermo World Conference, Palermo, Italy

Macedonia Relief Aid

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